Early predictions for what will be on our best of 2014 lists

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  • Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, one of our best of 2014 predictions, gets its premiere January 19 at Sundance and will be released in theaters later in the year.

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    With the purchase of a neighboring storefront, the Music Box Theatre explores the possibility of expanding to three screens in the new year, one of our best of 2014 predictions.

  • Chicago Filmmakers hopes to move into a landmark firehouse in Edgewater by April, one of our best of 2014 predictions.

  • The Bloomingdale Trail will feature recreation paths for runners and cyclists when it opens in the fall, one of our best of 2014 predictions.

  • The Great Chicago Fire Festival, to be produced by Redmoon Theater on October 3-4, will feature a �fire spectacle� along the river and is one of our best of 2014 predictions.

  • The Museum of Science and Industry celebrates National Robotics Week in April with a Robot Block Party, one of our best of 2014 predictions.

  • The Chicago History Museum exhibit of photographer Jack Delano�s railroad industry shots from wartime Chicago begins April 5, one of our best of 2014 predictions.

Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, one of our best of 2014 predictions, gets its premiere January 19 at Sundance and will be released in theaters later in the year.


FILM
The Music Box Theatre
revamped its smaller second screen in 2013, and in January owner William Schopf plans to buy the building adjacent to the movie house, 3733 North Southport Avenue, and explore the possibility of expanding with a third screen.

The indie film haunt Chicago Filmmakers is moving onto a bigger, better space: a landmarked, city-owned firehouse at 5720 North Ridge Avenue. While the group hopes to close the deal on the location’s sale and begin renovating the space by April, its new home probably won’t open to the public until early 2015.

Local documentary production company Kartemquin Films plans to release Life Itself, the much-anticipated doc about Roger Ebert, based on the late film critic’s memoir of the same name. Directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, the film gets its world premiere January 19 at the Sundance Film Festival. Meanwhile, the movie’s producers are still fund-raising on Indiegogo to cover post-production costs.

THINGS TO DO
Call it the Bloomingdale Trail, call it the 606—either way, the 2.7-mile former train line between Wicker Park and Logan Square is easily one of the most anticipated additions to the city in 2014. Under construction, it currently looks like little more than a dirt path, but that hasn’t stopped Mayor Emanuel’s press office from insisting that the first phase of the multipurpose elevated trail—positioned as Chicago’s answer to New York City’s High Line elevated park—will open “end to end” in the fall of '14. More amenities, landscaping and art will be added during future phases of construction.

As the Bloomingdale takes shape, the former baby of Chicago’s family of parks, Millennium Park, turns 10. (Has it already been a decade?) The city’s summer celebration, scheduled for late May through September, approximately, will be incorporated into its regular program of live music (the Downtown Sound, Loops and Variations and Made in Chicago series), outdoor films, workouts and more.

Also in the new year, the city will make a major addition to its surfeit of fests—but at least this new one’s not in the summer. The Great Chicago Fire Festival, planned for October 3 and 4 and produced by Redmoon Theater, includes happenings across the city, with the major events taking place along the Chicago River. The 19th century disaster that reduced more than three miles of the city to a pile of smoldering rubble doesn’t seem like something worth celebrating. Then again, Chicago did rise from the ashes. Details are scant, but Redmoon promises it will culminate on October 4 on the rehabbed riverfront with a “grand procession and fire spectacle...featuring acrobatics, live music, wild mechanical objects and more.”

MUSEUMS
The first multilocation exhibition the Field Museum has produced, “The Machine Inside: Biomechanics” premieres in Chicago on March 12 at the same time that a twin exhibition hits the road on a national tour. Using real specimens, interactive displays, models and videos, the show looks at animals and plants as if they’re machines built with an array of abilities for survival.

A complementary show opens in July at the Museum of Science and Industry. The MSI’s new permanent exhibit, “Numbers in Nature,” considers Mother Nature’s math: the systems of order that underlie everything from a snowflake to the cosmos. The centerpiece is a maze that creates a seemingly infinite repeating geometric pattern of mirrors that museumgoers navigate.

Man and machine hang out during National Robotics Week at the MSI’s Robot Block Party, April 5–13. There will be demonstrations of cutting-edge robots, presentations from student ‘bot teams, and lectures and workshops from robotics experts. But, alas, no robot break-dance competition.

As the MSI looks toward a mechanized future, the Chicago History Museum goes back to World War II with “Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography.” The show rounds up more than 60 prints from the great photographer, who documented the railroad industry for the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information.

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